Sudbury

Sudbury shelter move put off until neighbourhood is consulted

A downtown homeless shelter and an alcohol treatment home won't be moving until Sudbury city council first hears from its future neighbours.

City-owned former school pegged as home for emergency shelter and alcohol treatment home

The Off the Street homeless shelter has been run out of the old downtown Sudbury police station for the past few years. (Angela Gemmill/CBC)

A downtown homeless shelter and an alcohol treatment home won't be moving until Sudbury city council first hears from its future neighbours.

Councillors put off a vote Monday night on moving the Off the Street shelter and the Harm Reduction Home, both run by the Canadian Mental Health Association, to an old school on Lourdes Street near the Grotto.

Currently both programs are housed in the old downtown police station on Larch Street.

The mental health association is asking the city to give it the old school, currently used by the city to store archives, so it can have patients of the Harm Reduction Home, which serves alcoholics drinks to ease their addiction, live in the treatment centre instead of coming and going.

Cormier calling for community meeting 

But city councillor Fern Cormier, who represents the area, called for a community meeting before any decision is made.

"This is not an indictment of the program and certainly not our fellow citizens who may avail themselves of either of these programs. That is not what this is," Cormier told the community services committee meeting.

Mental health association CEO Marion Quigley said her agency has a good record of working with neighbours and ensuring their clients become "part of the community" but said they were waiting for the go-ahead from council before holding consultations.

​"We didn't want to do it unless we felt there was an initiative to move forward with this," said Quigley.

The Canadian Mental Health Association would like to move the Off the Street shelter and alcohol treatment home to the former Lourdes Street school, now owned by the city. (Google Streetview)
 "Nobody wants to feel that something is being snuck into a neighbourhood."- Addiction specialist Dr. Mike Franklyn

Addiction specialist doctor Mike Franklyn doesn't have a problem with the community consultation, saying "nobody wants to feel that something is being snuck into a neighbourhood."

But Franklyn said it is important to not keep the program right downtown, near to bars and the LCBO.

The consultation is expected to happen in the next few weeks, with the request coming back to council May 30.

Quigley promised the city councillors that if the building is transferred to them that they won't be back asking for more funding and plan to fundraise for the $3 million needed to renovate the old school.

The committee also heard from a Sudbury man identified only as Fern who says the Harm Reduction program has helped him stay sober for 22 weeks, after years of going in and out of detox.

"I used to pray to God that one day there'd be a place where they'd wean me down off it, so I wouldn't withdrawal so much," Fern said.